I do not recall traveling Route 66 as a great joy. If anything Route 66 is a reminder of just how harsh and foreboding a trip across country can be. I remember driving for days and days and days through an unchanged desert landscape where the mountains in the distance remained in the distance and never grew any closer. Traveling in an old car without air conditioning across the desert in the middle of the summer you get to experience all the aspects of hot as hell. Of the million or so times we traveled 66 every single trip was in the summer. You could always wait and wait and wait for the sun to go down and the cool of evening when the temperature would drop to a chilly 105 degrees. I sometimes wonder if the roadside novelties I remember from along 66 were actually there or simply a mirage or desert heat hallucinations. The billboards were a constant reminder that there was always someplace to stop just ahead, always just ahead, only 325 miles to Flying- C – Gas and Cafe. There were those.
Burma-Shave signs each with a word or two that would eventually add up to a slogan: Does Your Husband – Misbehave – Grunt And Grumble, Rant And Rave? – Shoot The Brute Some – Burma-Shave. You almost needed them to keep you from nodding off altogether. Of course there were the hot spots like the Painted Desert. I remember thinking I’m glad somebody’s finally doing something with it and there was the Petrified Forest. It only figured that the only trees you would find on route 66 would be petrified. The Grand Canyon and Barringer’s Meteorite Crater help fill the desert palette with a majestic harsh quality that was somehow magically captivating. The Route was also like a carnival of cheesy attractions all designed to turn a fast buck. Animal attractions, outlandish zoos, curio shops, Indian trading post and places like Two Guns, Arizona, that promoted an Apache Death Cave where as the Legend goes Apaches killed 40 Navajo men, women and children. This was in a time when no thought was given to exploiting stereotypes. If your head wasn’t still reeling from all the excitement, you were still conscious and you hadn’t had your fill. You could saw some logs in one of the many Tee Pees at Wigwam Motel on Route 66.